Ford's tough cost-cutting measures led to Wolfgang Reitzle's decision to resign as head of the company's Premier Automotive Group luxury-brand unit.
His departure came after weeks of clashing with Ford Motor Chief Operating Officer Nick Scheele over program and budget cuts, according to a source close to Reitzle.
The wide-ranging cost reductions targeted everything from bonuses for overseas executives - cut regardless of performance - to elimination of business-class travel for managers even on intercontinental flights, to new-vehicle programs.
'Scheele has regularly thrown stones at [Premier] during the past few months,' the source, who declined to be identified, told Automobilwoche, the German sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
'He systematically destroyed the pleasure Reitzle derived from his job.'
Rather than see the luxury brands and his own reputation damaged, Reitzle chose to leave, the source said.
Ford announced April 19 that the 53-year-old Reitzle was exiting to become CEO of Germany's Linde, a producer of industrial gases. The departure, which followed weeks of rumors that Reitzle was on his way out, was attributed to his desire to 'direct his own show.'
A cost-cutting environment just wasn't compatible with Reitzle's upmarket vision for Premier Automotive Group.
At the Volvo Jubilee celebrations in March, the source said, Scheele made it clear Reitzle's product programs would be scaled back.
First hit was Volvo's new 40 series, reduced to three versions from five. A convertible version and a crossover vehicle also have been canceled. Volvo also will be required to use more parts from Ford Motor.
Other Premier brands were hit. The Jaguar F-type roadster has been delayed, and closure of Jaguar's historic Browns Lane plant in Coventry, England, is being considered.
Reitzle moved to push the Lincoln brand out of Premier after Scheele slashed the development budget to $750 million (E828 million) from $2 billion. According to the source, Reitzle felt it would be impossible to begin developing Lincoln into a true world-standard luxury marque within Ford's new budget guidelines.
But even while Premier's new-vehicle development has been scaled back, Ford has demanded more profits from the luxury unit.
Although Reitzle was angered by Ford's cuts, the head of the automaker's North American operation suggested Reitzle had signed off on the need for the changes.
'As we looked at our product programs and our budget allocations, he pretty much was in line with what we had to do,' said Jim Padilla, 55, group vice president of Ford North America.
Padilla said he couldn't agree with the premise that Reitzle left because he wasn't getting the resources needed for proper luxury products.
'I don't believe that,' he said.
'First off, Wolfgang Reitzle is a very smart businessman. He knows that money alone won't take care of some of the things you've got to do. You've got to not only have adequate resources to get the product, but your product has to be sized so you can make some money. Wolfgang participated in those business discussions.'
- Mary Connelly contributed